E&P welcomes Larry Graham and new diversity spotlight

Columnist plans to share his and others’ experiences of being a diverse voice in a newsroom today

Posted

Larry Graham fell into journalism. A music student at Loyola University New Orleans, he hoped to become a teacher. Then one day, while he was watching an episode of “Friends” on TV, friend and fellow Loyola student Joe Danborn, sports editor at The Maroon, the student newspaper (and now deputy director of The Associated Press), interrupted to complain that writers were bailing on him. Graham said he’d be happy to cover a game, so long as Danborn got out of the way so he could continue watching “Friends.” His journalism career began!

Graham began working at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2008 and has worked as a reporter and editor at five news organizations, including ESPN, The Kansas City Star and The San Diego Union-Tribune. While his work has focused on sports, he also worked with the American Press Institute (API) to create the Table stakes website (tablestakes.org), a program to help local news organizations evolve into an audience-focused, digital-first sustainable enterprise.

Graham, a Black journalist, left API in April and has focused on the lack of diversity in newsrooms, which Pew Research Center reports are less diverse than the overall U.S. workforce. Graham created The Diversity Pledge Institute, whose mission is “to solve the diversity pipeline problem; improve retention rates associated with diversity, equity and inclusion; and support journalists’ career growth.” It provides services to aspiring journalists, as well as entire newsrooms.

“While we emphasize BiPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) journalists, we help everyone,” Graham said. “Part of the reason for that is I've been excluded before. Way too many times to be honest. And I'm not going to inflict that type of harm on anyone.”

Graham hopes the Institute’s approach will impact the global workforce, leading to greater diversification in every industry.  “Journalists transition into almost every other industry, from legal to energy to PR, so this is just a starting point for us,” he said.

Graham said his diversity, equity and inclusion column for Editor & Publisher will be “like a collection of experiences — my own and other peoples. It’s to shine a little bit more of light on what it’s like being a person of color in a newsroom.”

Graham also hopes other diversity innovators will submit guest columns to E&P. He has collaborated with Candace Buckner, S. Mitra Kalita and Sara Lomax-Reese. Buckner is the founder of “Sistas of Sports Journalism,” a network that mentors young Black women in media.  Kalita and Lomax-Reese are founders of URL (Uplift, Respect, Love) Media, which they describe as “a decentralized, multi-platform network of high-performing Black and Brown media organizations.”

Graham said the value of having Editor & Publisher as a platform for promoting diversity, equity and inclusion is that it’s the go-to source for those on both the news and business side of media. 

To submit a guest column on diversity, equity and inclusion topics, contact Associate Publisher Robin Blinder: robin@editorandpublisher.com.

Comments

1 comment on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • Henry_M_Lopez

    Welcome, Larry.

    I'm glad to see a voice focused on diversity in the industry added to E&P. Anyone who's spent any time in the industry and has an honest bone in them would have to concede that this is a m***ive issue for publishers who are on-the-whole failing miserably to identify and promote BIPOC into roles of prominence and responsibility in our newsrooms and business operations.

    I also give credit to E&P for providing the space for this conversation. That praise, however, doesn't come without critique and trepidation. I recently attended the American's Newspaper Senior Leadership Conference in Colorado Springs where E&P hosted a panel of executives on their predictions for the coming year.

    At one point, the conversation turned to a discussion of diversity (that segment is available to view https://youtu.be/V6una_CSz-0?t=1100 ) . I boiled hearing a conversation about racial and ethnic inclusion that didn't include anyone representing a BIPOC positionality. I fumed that E&P would put on a panel that lacked people of color, while positioning itself as the voice of reason on the subject. I was disappointed. I wanted to walk out.

    Can't do that, though.

    How would I explain that to my colleagues?

    Nope.

    Put on the armor.

    Relax the jaw muscles.

    Applaud politely.

    In 2021, we are having too few conversations about opportunity, diversity and inclusion without the very people who can provide the most insight into the issue and challenge many of the narratives that otherwise exists. We apologize too much to those who have the opportunity to make a difference, yet don't.

    The issues of diversity, opportunity and fairness are systemic in their roots and will need to be systemic in their long-term solutions, which, by definition, means re-examining the foundational ***umptions we make about our work and organizations.

    Again, I congratulate Larry and the folks at E&P for making this space for conversation a possibility. Hopefully this becomes a place for critical thought along with meaningful discussion, conflict and resolution.

    Best wishes to all involved.

    Thursday, November 4, 2021 Report this